Memphis did their part to complicate the #1 seed line situation by losing Thursday to UAB, but the boost to their conference RPI from their last two opponents probably helped them more than the loss hurt.
Recall the discussion of using conference (and non-conference) RPI rank vs. the raw RPI. As of March 1, their conference RPI rank was so out of whack with those of previous #1 seeds that the Crashing The Dance OracleTM figured them a borderline #3/4 seed.
As a result, I switched to using raw RPI instead of rank, against the yelling of the voice inside my head. I felt dirty. As I wrote then, a .6000 conference RPI (like a .300 batting average in baseball) may not mean the same thing year-to-year, but a #5 conference RPI rank means the same thing every year: they had the 5th best conference RPI. For predicting from past data, it certainly makes more sense to use the rank to make comparisons fair across season.
I'm happy to report that I've switched back to using conference (and non-conference) RPI rank. All of our testing last season indicated that rank was a more accurate predictor than raw value. Plus, it just makes sense.
Anyway, with their last two games, Memphis improved from 48th (through March 1) to 27th (through March 4), which is more in line (though still below) previous #1 seeds. We'll have to see how a drop in the new polls hurts them.
This by no means makes them a lock for a #1. They need to watch their back for, among others, Texas, Illinois, George Washington, and (what?!?) North Carolina. Any of these four, with a strong conference tourney run, could sneak in if Memphis falters.
The CTD OracleTM currently puts UNC #6 overall in the S-Curve, a jump of 7 spots after last night's upset win in Durham. If they go on to win the ACC tournament, their 6 losses would not prohibit their chances of a #1 seed. Five teams (Arizona and Michigan State in 2000; Illinois in 2001; Oklahoma and Texas in 2003) got #1 seeds with 6 or more losses. The difference (see the points column on the S-Curve list) between the four teams currently on the #2 line is slim, so any could jump to the #1 line should Memphis slip.